Aide to Queen Mother Dies From Mesothelioma

The former Private Secretary to Britain’s Queen Mother has died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, and an inquest is to be held into his death to determine if he was exposed to the deadly toxin at Clarence House. Sir Alastair Aird, 78, worked for the Queen Mother for over 40 years, and was one of the last people to see her before her death in 2002. In 2003, in recognition of his long and distinguished service, he was appointed an Extra Equerry to the Queen.
Aird died from mesothelioma in September. Now officials will investigate whether he contracted the cancer, which is nearly always caused by inhalation of asbestos particulate, during the abatement of asbestos material at Clarence House, the Queen Mother’s London home. The abatement, which occurred over two summers while the Queen Mother was away, is believed to have been conducted in accordance with the strict safety guidelines that British law mandates. Asbestos is generally considered safe when it is not disturbed, but when it is damaged or disturbed in any way, it can release millions of microscopic particles into the air, where they can be inhaled. Once inhaled, the asbestos fibers lodge themselves into the lungs and their protective sheath, a membrane called the mesothelium. This can then lead to the possible formation of a tumor and a possible diagnosis of mesothelioma. One of the most unfortunate aspects of this disease is that it can lie latent within the body for years, or even decades, before being accurately diagnosed. Aird was initially diagnosed with an unspecified cancer, and only later was it recognized as mesothelioma. In addition to supervising the removal of asbestos insulation at Clarence House, he may have been exposed to it in his former apartment at St. James’s Palace. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for mesothelioma although treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation can be given in order to help stop the spread of the cancer and to alleviate its symptoms. Some of the symptoms of mesothelioma include coughing, chest pain, weakness or fatigue, and difficulty breathing. The most common form of mesothelioma is malignant pleural mesothelioma, but the cancer can also affect the heart and stomach.